Navigation

The Evolution of Apple Ads

Branding, Marketing, Resources | Sep 15, 2009

Apple first started advertising its products in the late 1970s.

The 80s showed a wide variety of ads, some of which served to convince consumers that they should purchase a computer, and specifically an Apple.

These ads were text-heavy and light on images, as were many computer and technology ads from that era.

Apple ads really came into their heyday during the 1990s, with the “Think Different” campaign, which became very popular as they featured a number of famous people.

Here’s a stunning compilation of some of Apple’s most notable advertisements from the 70s until the present day, including a few videos ads.

With the launch of the iMac in the late 90s, Apple ads became much more artistic and, for the most part, focused much more on showcasing the product and used very little text compared with earlier ads.

It’s also worth noting how the ads changed as the hardware changed. For more on the evolution of Apple’s hardware, see The Evolution of Apple Design between 1977-2008 which takes a look at the changes from a hardware perspective.

Most recently, Apple has focused on television advertising, most notably with its Mac vs. PC ads. The company had done TV ads prior to that (starting with the ad based on George Orwell’s “1984″ during the 1984 Super Bowl), but mostly in conjunction with print campaigns.

Current Apple ads seem to follow two veins: advertisements for their computers generally have a white background and put the emphasis on the product being advertised; ads for the iPod line generally have bright backgrounds with silhouetted figures. Most of Apple’s current advertising seems to be on TV these days. You can watch most of the recent ads on the Apple website.

 

1970s

 

1980s

 

1990s

 

2000-Present

 

Video Ads



Compiled exclusively for WDD by Cameron Chapman.

How has Apple’s advertisement changed over the years? What are the most significant changes? Please share your opinion with us.



Share this post
Comments (no login required)
  • http://thegamejc.deviantart.com/ TheGameJC

    fantastic compilation man

  • http://www.danieleckermann.com Mllx

    Awesome post :D
    First btw

  • http://www.orphicpixel.com Mars

    wow, how’d you collect all those vintage ads, amazing eh!

  • http://www.traxor-designs.com/ Luke Jones

    http://netdna.webdesignerdepot.com/uploads/apple_ads/1979studenthours.jpg

    That looks too much like Alan Partridge (Steve Coogan)

  • http://www.davidkendallwebdesign.co.uk DaveK

    love this article, I like the way you can see the macs slowly evolving into what we use today, I usually remember the early macs with nostalgia, and drool over the latest, but tend to forget all the ones in between.

  • Kees

    What’s an Apple man?

  • http://www.empfehlenswert-wien.at wien

    nice story

  • Pat

    Nice post. And interessting to see Apple before TBWA and after.

  • AleksGrynis

    Thats what I am talking about :) Great job!

  • http://www.zeemidesign.com zeemiDesign

    Great Post,
    especially impressive that you found all those really old ads.

  • http://www.tutdepot.com Martyn

    Awesome post! The newest adverts look slightly better than the old ones :P

  • http://www.delicious-webdesign.com/ Essex Website Designer

    Awesome trip down memory lane

  • Visa

    You missed a classic, the Ellen Feiss commercial in the “Switch” series: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_GxC4kKD9qA

  • http://jf-larocca.com Jeff

    It’s so cool! Some of these ads are priceless.

  • http://human3rror.com John (Human3rror)

    This is killer! thanks so much.

  • http://www.suppod.com Jobber

    Thx. Great to see how fast technology moved forward. Impressive.

  • http://www.famefoundry.com The Communicator

    Part of my job responsibilities is to read recent and relevant online articles. I spent way too much time with this one, and I’m not finished. Might be the only one I read today. Got to get back to work. But I’ll be back! Thanks for this one!

  • http://www.fuelyourapps.com Chad Engle

    Awesome job grabbing a TON of ads. I think its funny the farther down you get the less and less texts the ads have and the more minimal they have become. Great look at deeps roots in tech & design history.

  • http://www.iowa-personalinjurylawyer.com/ Iowa personal injury

    That’s an impressive compilation. It’s really interesting to see how these ads have changed so much.

  • Ross

    Amazing!
    Where have you found all these ads?

  • http://www.arielisaac.com/ Sol

    Great compilation!
    Thx!

  • http://cg.pankov.org snikus

    MEGA COOL POST…. +5

  • http://www.asksander.com Sander

    I had an Apple //c when I was (much) younger… I’m kind of sad that I don’t have it anymore after seeing these ads… :)

  • http://www.slightlycurvedcube.co.uk Wayne Hodkinson

    Cool as cool can be!

  • http://www.davetyler.net dave

    very nice post =)

  • http://www.logobliss.com Logo Bliss

    that is an absolute epic list, (picks jaw of floor)…i think the apple ads a pretty creative..

  • http://www.sametomorrow.com/blog Adam

    Nice post of the evolution very interesting.

  • Rafael Roque

    Nice!!!

  • http://www.twitter.com/abgemei Abdurrahman Gemei

    Great stuff! I’m surprised how you actually compiled all of the ads and organized them. It must have taken forever. What a ride for Apple though.

  • carlos

    Hello, I think this is a great article for ad designers and other people in tha advertising busyness, but did you have to post it all in 1 super extra large page? what about posting just a part of the entire article and a link to rest of it so people who is really interested can read it.
    I was reading this in google reader and it took about 50 seconds to load all those pictures that I didn’t want to see even.

    Regards

    • http://www.webdesignerdepot.com Walter

      Most people prefer to have all images on one page. I’m aware that it takes a while to load.

  • Alex Keher

    You have to admit that the Ads of Adam is very very gay!

  • http://www.webdesignerdepot.com Walter

    The image sources can be seen by clicking on the images.

  • http://www.tvrotsyourmindgrapes.com Tatiana

    That was great! Great job finding the vintage print ads!

  • http://www.bradyoshiro.com/blog bradyo

    don’t know how you got all the ads but it awesome to see the evolution of the ads

  • http://www.trompodesign.com.mx/ TrompoDesign

    muy buen post gran compendio simplemente genial!!!!!!

  • http://www.josefrichter.com Josef Richter

    wow, what a comprehensive compilation! thanks

  • http://nishad2m8.deviantart.com nishad

    g8 collection :)

  • http://seanrasmussen.com/ Sean Rasmussen

    That takes me back to some good ‘old’ memories. It’s almost scary. We now live in the future! Good old Apple.

  • http://dufaukz.com Dufaukz

    Nice designs!

  • Gombáu

    Unbelievable!!!!!

  • http://acadianawebsites.com Bryan Broussard

    Great post!!!

  • http://anhgirlxinh.com Anh girl xinh

    Great post, I love Apple!!!

  • http://www.bebop-ad.com BebopDesigner

    I’m blown away man! I can’t believe you found all that stuff… what a brilliant post! I’m a Mac lover… what can I say. Thanks for posting.

  • http://www.amorwebdesign.com Mark Rosser

    Excellent post, thank you. Remember quite a few of those from the 80′s & 90′s.

  • WallMountedHDD4Linux

    So basically they went from very geeky, techy, respectable ads that were gutsy, only somewhat pretentious….to ads reliant on colors, pop culture, being the epitome of trendy and hip, and pretentious to hell and back?

    Yeah. I see no trend of improvement.

  • http://www.aledesign.it aledesign.it

    Fantastic post and the video are amazing!

  • http://www.psprint.com/stickers-labels Ashely Adams : Sticker Printing

    Have always been a fan of Apple. It’s a company I have a lot of respect for. Have always loved the happy marriage of technology and aesthetics. The Windows vs. Mac ads were hilarious. Couldn’t agree more.

  • http://www.small-tree.com Jayne

    Wow these are great, I especially love the 70′s Apple II!

  • Andrew Thompson

    Great stuff, but you can tell the intro was written by a designer: “Apple HAVE … with THEIR..”. Apple IS a company and IS therefore singular. The copywriters in the seventies knew that (read the ads), but that was before type became a design element and grammar an optional extra.

    Love the compilation, though. Thanks for compiling and publishing.

    • http://www.webdesignerdepot.com Walter

      Love the feedback and thanks for the positive comments. I’ve reviewed the text and I think I’ve corrected it all.

      Thanks again for bringing this to my attention.

  • stevebert

    I think you can really see the break between the MessagePad 2000 ad and the first Bondi iMac ad. Steve Jobs takes over here and his minimalist aesthetic is quite obviously behind the change.

  • RoaldA

    Haha, so funny! :D

  • http://circleboxcreative.com/ Callum Chapman

    Excellent round-up, thanks for sharing!

  • http://www.pixmac.com Vitezslav Valka

    Gorgeous! Thank you for getting that together :-)

  • http://www.blog.exxcorpio.com Luis Lopez

    I think this is amazing, that’s the proof why everyone loves and dream having an apple product.
    The best are the mac vs pc

  • http://www.zamplr.com zamplr

    Wow, I love Apple II era.

  • http://inniosoft.wordpress.com Michael Rockett

    Very nice – it’s actually the first time ive seen the old apples =) nice compilation! :)

  • Alejandro

    Ho ho, great compilation.

  • http://www.protoshare.com Andrea

    It’s nice to see the evolution of one company/brand. Great post! I also find it interesting that in advertising, less really is more (notice how the amount of copy dramatically decreased over the years) as we are inundated with so much advertising media these days.

  • http://www.boraacemi.com BORABORA

    Great collection! Thanks for putting up all this together!
    Best wishes
    BORABORA

  • http://www.onMarketing.de Ralf Zmölnig

    Only one word: Yeah!

  • http://www.classictiffany.co.uk/ tiffany and co

    Thanks for your information, i have read it, very good!

  • http://www.dj-service-bayern.de dj münchen

    apple is great !

  • http://www.classesandcareers.com/ Liberal Arts

    The designs are more impressive now, but how sad that there is less attempt to teach and inform than in the past. Of course, the primary object of the teaching and informing was to sell, but at least there was some valid data and intelligence in the wordier advertisements of the past.

  • joe

    Awwww those were the days, I remember it was like yesterday when my parents bought me, my first Mac Classic with NEC laser printer (300dpi) in the 80s with Pagemaker from Computerland! Thanks for sharing!

  • http://www.cypherbox.net cypherbox

    Apple is awesome cool from design to functionality and of course the quality. I just remember how my iPod shuffle misplaced in a mug, accidentally my brother put a hot water in it for a coffee break. Guess what? It’s still working after that ’til now.hehehe..

  • http://www.illuminz.com ILLUMINZ

    Great compilation!

    Apple has always created hype because they have a “think different” marketing agency.

    @zeemiDesign you always work in underpants?? :D

  • http://www.code.my Code.My

    Wow, Great Collection and Apple old ads look really bad

  • dicklacara
  • http://www.patrickvalmont.com patrickv

    NIce, apple’s video ad really sucked though !! but their picture ads is really cool

  • W. Anderson

    As owner of an iMAC running Snow Leopard OS (still using VM Ware Fusion so I can run my Microsoft suff– I still dream of a universal operating sytem with no need to use virtual systems. I use genealogy software (Family Tree maker 2009 by choice) and long to se a version for MAC that runs the same features easy to use as FTM9 (no genealogy proram for MAC matches it for use and efficiency). So MR Apple, take the next step to a fully integrated universal system and enlarge the cosmos for us all.

  • http://www.qloob.com شات

    Wow these are great,
    thanks

  • http://banhawi.com/ Banhawi

    Big apple fan :)

  • http://www.anistock.com Anistock

    the more I come back to this article, the more I am amazed by Apple, pity they lost thier way in the 90′s.

  • http://www.auto-tool-shop.com/ Lexia 3 Citroen Peugeot

    Apple is the coolest company in the world. I like this company and Jobs.

  • http://leandronovaes.wordpress.com Leandro Novaes – Brazil

    Congraturations! I’m a Apple Fan Boy!

  • http://redstage.com/magento Redstage Magento

    Some of these ads are just amazing. I can remember a couple of the old ones. It just shows how technology and the ways of advertisement have evolved.

  • Allison K (FILM 240)

    I really love seeing the whole evolution of the Apple ads. A lot has definitely changed.
    It’s very interesting to see how the older Apple ads were more anecdotal advertisements of the ‘everyday people,’ as well as using famous names like Ford and Thomas Edison. Large, bold, and short phrases to catch audience’s attention were also familiar patterns throughout. And looking at the Apple advertisements of the 21st century, everything is still somewhat colourful (especially those ipod dancing ads), yet minimalistic and fewer captioning. With Apple’s massive popularity these days, these ads have definitely come a long way to help boost its consumer audience.

  • http://www.dramabarroco.blogspot.com Suelen Pessoa

    Like Newton said: Oops, an Apple!

    =)

  • http://www.tutorgrafico.com juan carlos

    Gran trabajo

  • Krag

    The demise of AAPL has been greatly exaggerated, over the last 20 years.

    Present capitalization rate will place them worth more than GE in 10 years.

  • http://treino.org Ricardo Mentzer

    Man, this is the best compilation !
    congratulations
    From Brazil!

  • http://www.duran-design.com Jose Duran III

    Thank’s for a great compilation of pure art-mac. I personally bought my first Mac II on l987 and it was my first computer. That was a turn point in my life. I never used an other type. It’s my way of life. I love just about everything about Macs. Even the adverts about it.
    Running a iMac 20″, an i book 15″ and Iphone to work and entertainment my self.
    saludos from Spain to all MacFans!

  • http://blog.rainer.eschen.name rainwebs

    Great compilation. Interesting development in products. Would we have the quality of the iPhone without the ideas of a Newton?

  • http://sansherif.wordpress.com/ Bonna

    The Emotional Design was the great view of marketing. While the others sell technology, Apple sells life style and entertainment, Awesome!

  • Ruysantana

    Youmademyday
    greatworkthankyou

  • http://www.vittoria.pf Vittoria

    Great compilation, thanks.

  • http://mdmi.blogspot.com J Broström

    Great compilation!

  • http://www.mediabids.com Print Advertising

    Really interesting to see the evolution of the ads and the different concepts within each campaign. Apple has done a fantastic job of making you think with their print ads as well as conveying the potential benefits of their product.

  • http://xkonstantine.wordpress.com Kate

    Brilliant collection – thanks for posting!

  • überRegenbogen

    The “1984 won’t be like 1984″ Mac ad was NOT Apple’s first TV ad. I distinctly remember the “What If” Apple II ad with Dick Cavett. I suspect there were others. There also was a Lisa ad with (then unknown) Kevin Costner (though i’m not sure if it was pre-Mac).

  • http://www.alejandroperazzo.com/ Alvaro Hernandorena

    great work, awsome compilation!!!

    some where very funny lol

  • http://www.anactivesite.ch Minocula

    Great collection, specially Apple Crazies and Macintosh 1984 I very like! thx!

    But the master of computer advertising is still steve balmer ;)

    check that out

    http://wiki.anactivesite.ch/Videos/Broadcaster/IT#Old_Windows_Commercial

    Kind regards

  • http://www.aydesign.net web tasarım

    Great collection, specially Apple Crazies and Macintosh 1984 I very like! thx!

  • binE

    Thx a lot for this post

  • Siq

    It’s interesting how the ads get less and less wordy over time to the point that there are almost no words at all.

  • amcieq

    great job, gonna study it hard ;)

  • http://circleboxblog.com Callum Chapman

    I’m revisiting because I love Apple ads. They should really open up section in the Apple store to sell all these posters!

  • http://www.chotrul.com/design/design-showcase.html Chotrul Web Design

    I’d never seen the earliest ads you’ve shared … they are truly retro, for a brand that I have very different associations with. My, how design styles change over time!

    Many thanks for the great selection of videos in particular which really showcase what is so special about Apple and their design.

  • http://masterfreetzi.ru/ компьютерная помощь в москве

    great collection, thanks

  • http://www.gmbar.com/ cheap wow gold

    good post , I like it very much

  • http://www.paralante.net Paralante

    Excuse me my english is little. because I like the Apple ads Revisiting clubs. They really all these posters to sell part of Apple store must be open to.

  • http://www.asteknikhirdavat.com/ hırdavat

    great collection ı phone.. I love apple…

  • http://www.airconditioningforperth.com.au air conditioning company

    great post wow how times have change and apple has been making life easier what’s next I guess only time will tell

  • http://turnkeye.com TurnkeyEcommerce

    Newton was great device :)

  • dicklacara
    • http://dir.al-sa1.com دليل شاتات

      great post wow how times have change and apple has been making life easier what’s

  • http://www.horn.com Michael Lupescu

    Wow, what a beautiful collection of work! Apple is all about creativity and truly being different, constantly leading and inspiring!

    Thanks for this great post!

  • http://www.hamsjazan.com/vb منتدى

    great post wow how times have change and apple has been making life easier what’s next I guess only time will tell

  • http://www.5jul.com شات

    Haha, so funny!

  • http://www.elinpa.com hırdavat malzemeleri

    good subject and so fine :)))

  • http://www.akfhafriyat.com.tr hafriyat

    amazing.. thanx for post

  • http://www.akfhafriyat.com.tr hafriyat

    thanks.. great compilation

  • http://www.sinosells.com/?u=636 Fris

    very beautiful design,thanks very much!

  • http://www.ellipsisdive.com ellipsisdive

    Apple has evolved since its start in the 80s. Currently, i believe it is bigger than Microsoft and Google in IT, because they produce both software and hardware.

  • http://www.chameleondsgn.blogspot.com Edwin Ortega Bu

    Apple really knows how to make our life different, apple is a revolutionary product.
    This is one of the coolest post I had ever read, thanks for share this stuff with us, very nice job, congrats.

  • http://www.lead411.com/Lori_Austen_3115984.html Lori Austen

    Superb post……The Windows vs. Mac ads were hilarious.

  • http://www.girloncanvas.com Christie

    All ads pre-1990 were giving me anxiety with all that type. Obviously less was not more back then.

  • http://www.stripeyhorsecreative.com/book_graphic_design_1.html Graphic designer

    Some of those old adverts are cool! Its hard to believe advertising use to have so much text in it… Maybe we had more attention span ba………

  • http://www.frwlh.com/vb فراوله

    I’m revisiting because I love Apple ads. They should really open up section in the Apple store to sell all these posters!

  • http://www.perfilgeek.com Edwin Sandoval

    The successfull history of Apple based in two terms, creativity and simplicity.

  • http://flaviopaiva.com/ Flavio

    Apple has good products and good ads. They have great lessons to us. 1984 is one of the best ones.

  • http://netbook-online.org Sonari

    Hi,

    the thing is, Apple has a dämn good marketing battalion, i call it so, because they make their money only over marketing.
    Because the important way to sell your products is, bind the customer with feelings to this product in the advertisement.
    The products aren’t good as i set up my own computersystem. I can do that only in the harmony in which way the hardware components play together.
    Apple build there computers in a way that can’t be done at home.
    I’ve seen it on their new MacBook Air. They have deconstruct a SSD Memory and integrated it directly on the mainboard.
    Thats a other way of quality but doesn’t excuses the high prices of their products!

    By the way, Apple isn’t a company any more, which is specified on computers. They’ve take the cake with the iPhone.

    Hope you know what i mean ;)

    Greetings

  • http://www.benjieboo.co.uk Benjamin Christine

    Thats brilliant! wish i had been more of a apple user back in the day!
    Really great stuff though! thanks

  • http://www.ipixelpro.com jafar

    Excellent collection man

  • http://www.allwebusa.com Yuri Suarez

    Absolutely agree TheGameJc, Apple is the best platform for multimedia.

    Thank for sharing it.

  • http://www.degreejungle.com/online/degrees/computers Computers

    Really neat to see the full progression. Great collection.

  • http://www.sayvende.com/ Desiree Arias

    Awesome work, i suppose you had to put lot of hours preparing this..

  • Soaring Butterfly

    Exxxxxxccccelllent!
    Thank you.

  • http://maximodesign.blogspot.com/ mario

    excellent selection did not know that Apple had changed through the years …

  • http://www.justinmind.com Etienne

    Great to see the evolution of a brand, but more than that, the evolution of advertising in general! Insightful!